Mental health problems soar among children

1 Jul 19

Council leaders have warned of a child mental health crisis after the number of disorders recorded in England increased by more than half in just four years.

Social services are seeing more than 560 children with mental health disorders every day, according to analysis by the Local Government Association.

Government figures show that there were 205,720 cases where a child was identified as having a mental health issue in 2017–18 compared to 133,600 in 2014-15 – a 54% jump.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “It is clear we are facing a children’s mental health crisis, and councils are struggling to provide the support young people so desperately need.

“Significant funding pressures in children’s services and public health mean many councils are being forced to cut some of the vital early intervention services which can support children with low-level mental health issues and avoid more serious problems in later life.”

Public health services, which also support a child’s early development, have been cut by £700m in the last five years, the LGA said.

Bramble called on the government to fund intervention services in the forthcoming Spending Review, as the LGA estimates a £3.1bn funding gap in children’s services by 2025.

The LGA said that since 2010 councils have overseen an 84% increase of children on child protection plans to keep them safe from harm. Currently there are 75,420 children in the care of councils.

Increasing levels of children in care are piling pressure on council budgets as they try to accommodate children’s services, and nine out of 10 councils now overspend in this area, the LGA.

The Department of Health and Social Care has been approached for comment.

Last month the prime minister unveiled plans to ensure all new teachers are trained in how to spot signs of mental health issues in young people.

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